UK consumers are keen digital shoppers. However, once the purchase has been made, any follow-up issues tend to happen in-store, with digital post-sales support seen as suboptimal.

Source: Post-Purchase Issues a Physical Affair in the UK – eMarketer

eMarketer forecast that UK retail ecommerce sales will exceed £67 billion in 2016, and that by 2020 digital sales will represent 22.6% of total retail sales. But while much buying is shifting to digital channels, one element of the shopper journey retains a firm foothold in the physical world.

UK Internet Users Who Prefer to Use Digital vs. In-Store Channels During Select Stages of the Path to Purchase, June 2016 (% of respondents)

June 2016 data from retail and consumer market strategy consultant Pragma illustrated that post-purchase issues were far more likely to be dealt with in-store — 76% of UK internet users surveyed said they preferred a face-to-face interaction rather than a digital one.

Most all other stages of the path to purchase saw a preference for digital channels.

The ease, or rather unease, of returning products via a digital interface is likely the main reason for this sentiment.

A poor returns experience can cause customers to jump ship: 80% of those surveyed in April 2016 by JDA, Centiro and YouGov said they would switch to a different digital retail if they had a problem with returns. And 80% of internet users surveyed by Forrester Consulting for RetailNext said they expected to be able to make returns digitally or in-store regardless of how they bought an item.

A Q3 2015 report from Cognizant indicated that a majority of UK internet users felt that returning products in-store was better than doing so digitally—55% vs. 14%, with 31% stating that both methods were as good as each other.

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